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Charrette process promising

There was a charrette in Rio Rancho this week that we had planned to attend but couldn’t. We would be willing to bet most of you didn’t attend either. We wonder how many people even know what a charrette is; thankfully the people promoting the event didn’t use that word exclusively in the description because most of us don’t really know what it means. But it was a worthwhile event.

UNM West and CNM held a charrette or planning session on Monday that was designed to work with the community to create a vision and help plan Rio Rancho’s future higher education reality. We applaud both UNM West and CNM for its efforts to create a viable solution to educate our community. Including the residents directly created an opportunity for them to have a voice in the process and in the outcome.

We would like to believe everyone is keeping up with this process, especially in light of all the criticism thrown at UNM during the August special election campaign. UNM and UNM West have stepped up to the plate, are actively designing Rio Rancho’s future higher education opportunities and are listening to our ideas. We could not ask for better partners.

It has prompted us, however, to look at the word charrette. It’s becoming a common word in groups that need to plan and design complex projects and is configured to include many people and their ideas in the process in an organized fashion. Everyone is included in the charrette, and the planning allows the participants to collaboratively map solutions.


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Personally, we think the charrette provides a good process and the end results are a win-win solution, but we also wonder if the process could be adapted for use on a smaller scale. The charrette includes collaborative discussions for developing a vision, preparing a plan, and developing the plan. It’s more complex than that, but that’s a start.

Our proposal is a do-it-yourself charrette with small groups of friends or neighbors using this process to plan the future of Rio Rancho’s city government. Frequently we wait to decide who to vote for until we see who is running. Maybe we should get involved in the process earlier and possibly help determine who runs and who determines our vision.

With friends or neighbors, determine what your vision is for the city and for future mayors or councilors. What kind of person do you want in those offices? How do you envision their role? Where would you like them to guide the city?

Then look around for people who can direct Rio Rancho’s future, people who will collaborate with the residents and businesses but will keep the vision as a guiding light. Talk to others to see what their vision is; expand your charrette. Find people with similar visions who would consider representing you and Rio Rancho. And even if you don’t find someone to run this March, maybe you will know more about who you want to elect.

Those who want to run for city offices must officially sign up in January. That means we only have this month and next to use the trendy charrette planning model to determine who or at least what kind of person can guide us.

Get involved early so we can watch our vision become a reality.

Contact the Ryans at